ACCESS NL > Education in the Netherlands > Dutch school system > Primary and secondary education > I have a 14 year old daughter who is coming to live with me in the Netherlands. She does not speak any Dutch. Therefore, can you recommend a Dutch state school where my daughter can learn the language as well as being taught the normal academic subjects?
Primary and secondary education
I am planning to stay here for a long time. Should I send my children to a Dutch or an international school?
I have a 14 year old daughter who is coming to live with me in the Netherlands. She does not speak any Dutch. Therefore, can you recommend a Dutch state school where my daughter can learn the language as well as being taught the normal academic subjects?
From 12 years of age, Dutch children will normally choose from more vocationally-based training to pre-university diplomas depending on their academic ability. In the first year, pupils will study the same curriculum, but to different academic depth. This is known as the basisvorming. In the second year specialist profiles are selected based upon the chosen academic route for the child. As all classes in Dutch schools are taught in Dutch, those children who do not have a good command of the Dutch language will be at an obvious disadvantage.
Therefore, after registering with the municipality in which they live, those children who meet the following criteria are usually required to attend ‘bridging’ schools known as Internationale Schakelklas – ISK:
- Have lived in the Netherlands for less than two years
- Need tuition to become competent in speaking the Dutch language
- Are between the ages of 12 and 18
Children will usually be assessed for their linguistic skills in the Dutch language before they are allowed to enrol in an ISK school. There are ISK schools located throughout the Netherlands. There is no list of ISK’s anymore. Best is to check with your municipality.
The ISK schools prepare pupils for intake into secondary education or vocational education, depending on the age of the students. The aim of these schools is to teach children as much Dutch as possible over a two-year period, so that the children are capable of going on to learn to the same level of academic ability in the Netherlands as they would in their home country. At the ISK schools the teenage children will be given dedicated lessons to learn Dutch for approximately 16 to 20 hours per week.
In addition, to the teaching of other academic subjects such as mathematics, geography, history and economics, art and culture, the ISK schools also provide additional support for the students. This support is often in the form of a dedicated mentor and access to other specialised services, for example a speech therapist for those children who experience difficulty in pronunciation of the Dutch language.
Depending on their age and ability in mastering the Dutch language, children will typically spend between 1.5 to 2 years attending an ISK school before transferring to the mainstream Dutch educational system.